- 5 September 2022
- Posted by: ante
- Category: Mental health
Student life is something that many desire. It’s the first step of independence and the opportunity to get immersed in an interesting and engaging subject of choice. There are fun nights out and friendships in store, so why offer tips on mental well-being?
Managing the Transition to Student Life
At any point of transition, we have to deal with change. Whilst the overriding feeling can be excitement, there is a need to adapt. We have to let go of the familiar, step out of our comfort zone and deal with things for the first time. As a result, times of transition can elevate levels of stress.
If you are heading off to university, it is a point of transition. Typically, it’s the first time you’ve lived away from home. You may be delighted to gain independence and be free to make decisions for yourself. Equally, you may feel sad about leaving family and friends behind. It’s often a complex blend of emotions.
Being able to process these emotions, adapt to the change in lifestyle and take on the responsibilities of independent living all depend on mental well-being. Whilst many students love university life, it won’t be a positive experience all of the time. It is, therefore, important to know how to keep yourself mentally healthy.
Get Familiar with the University in Advance
The more you know about your university, the less daunting it will seem. Hopefully, you visited the campus and accommodation during an open day and have a feel for what’s there. It’s also useful to explore the city or town beyond the campus gates in advance. Get clued up on details such as the bus times and where to find the supermarket. Sign up with a local doctor’s surgery.
You may have joined a social group with other students who are moving into your accommodation or are on the same course. Even though you’ve not met in person, this can make it easier to spot familiar faces and start a conversation when you arrive. Building a new network of friends is a great way to support mental well-being.
5 Ways to Make Friends at Uni
You might be the life and soul of the party, but if the prospect of making new friends seems a bit daunting. I found these strategies effective:
- If you are in your room, wedge the door open. I found people stopped to say hello and introduce themselves. They might invite me to join them for lunch or a walk, which I’d accept. If I’d kept the door closed, they would just have walked by.
- Join a university club or society that interests you. I found this offered a structured way to meet like-minded people and a way to try out new activities.
- Offer assistance if you see someone who needs help. It might be showing them how to use the washing machine or directing them to somewhere on campus. These interactions build rapport, they will be more inclined to stop for a chat another time.
- At the end of a lecture, don’t rush back to your room. Ask a question or two of the people sitting next to you. See if they want to grab a drink in the café.
- Volunteer for a local organisation or get a part-time job. This is a great way to build your CV, whilst also meeting new people.
When your Mental Well-being Takes a Hit
If you start to feel homesick, isolated, low in mood or anxious, it is important to take action. If it’s just been a bad day, what will make you feel better? A call to a friend back home, an uplifting piece of music or heading out for a run could help turn things around.
If the feelings are proving harder to shift, it’s important to seek out support. Here are six options for sharing how you are feeling and getting help:
- Contact the Pastoral Care Team or Student Union at University. They will be experienced in listening and supporting students with money management, relationship issues, work pressures and more.
- Check if your university has Nightline – a free, confidential support service that is open from 8pm until 8am. https://nightline.ac.uk/want-to-talk/
- Text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258 to access free, confidential support https://giveusashout.org/
- Call Samaritans on 116 123 and talk to a trained volunteer https://www.samaritans.org/
- Make an appointment at the GP you signed up with.
- Get in touch with a trusted friend or family member who you know will listen, cares and will be both honest and non-judgemental.
Don’t hesitate to take action, as early intervention plays a crucial role in preventing issues from spiralling. Simply talking can help make sense of things and enable you to see things from a fresh perspective. The decision about what advice you listen to and the action you take is yours.
What to Do If you Notice Someone Else is Struggling
You may have no issues with your mental well-being but might notice that someone else seems to be struggling with student life. Have you spotted a change in their behaviour or appearance? Are they missing lectures, not coming out of their room or acting out of character?
If so, make an effort to speak with them in person. Ask how they are and explain that you have concerns. Spend time with them, even if they don’t talk and listen if they do. Unless they are at immediate risk of harm to themselves or others, keep the conversation confidential.
Encourage them to seek support and maybe offer to go with them to the student union or GP. Your presence could give them the courage to speak up and get support.